Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

It’s all about the kids



By Michel Beaudry

She’s the quintessential energy bomb. Soccer coach, private ski instructor, and longtime school trustee — not to mention mom (and confidante) to three highly talented kids — Andrée Janyk is like no other woman I have ever met. Always up, always ready for an adventure — and never far from the action when something at Whistler needs to be done — Janyk brings a level of commitment and passion to her life that raises the performance bar for everyone around her.

Yet she comes across as one of the happiest, most positive people I know. Sure, she can make people uncomfortable with her energy. And she’s not afraid to ruffle feathers when she needs to get things done. But it all comes from the heart. And it rarely fails to produce results. Consider her latest mission.

“My goal is to become one of the first women to be appointed chief of course at the Olympics,” she tells me in her usual near-staccato delivery. And then she giggles like a little girl. “I know. I know. It’s a totally male dominated position. And the old boys at the FIS aren’t that keen to challenge the status quo.” She pauses for just a moment. Laughs again. “But I believe there’s gotta be a way for women to break into that club…”

Indeed, Whistler has always attracted strong females. Whether Myrtle Philip or Nancy Greene, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden or Cathy Jewett (to name but four), the women who have chosen to make this place their home over the years have been outstanding in a variety of categories. But even among these women, Janyk stands out. Clearly, if there’s anybody who can break through skiing’s Old Boy bastion, she’s the one…

And she certainly has the right pedigree.

“My earliest ski memory is of riding on my dad’s back at Grouse,” recalls the former national ski team member. “I couldn’t have been much older than two. We were skiing off-piste, in deep snow just off the Cut. Suddenly my dad brushed a big fir, lost his balance and fell backwards — right on top of me.” She laughs. “I don’t know why I remember that episode so well. I guess it just kind of stuck with me.”

Growing up in North Vancouver with her two brothers, Andrée considered Grouse Mountain an extension of the family’s backyard. And given her dad’s role as the pre-eminent ski area builder of his generation — not only was he the one to put up the first double chairlift in Western Canada at Grouse, he was also involved in the development of Red Mountain, Silver Star and a host of others — it wasn’t surprising that she remembers her time on Grouse so fondly.